Universities Jointly Honour ‘Chuck’ Feeney for his Philanthropic Activities
Sep 07, 2012
The nine universities in Ireland, North and South, have conferred an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) on Charles F. “Chuck” Feeney, founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies. The degree was conferred to give public honour and thanks to Chuck Feeney for his incredible support of the Irish universities over the past twenty years. It was also conferred to convey to the people of Ireland just how radical and transformative this continued support has been. This is the first time that the universities on the island of Ireland have come together to confer their highest award on an individual.
Since 1989, The Atlantic Philanthropies have donated almost €800 million to Irish universities, North and South. Introducing Mr Feeney, Dr Patrick Fottrell, Chair, Science Foundation Ireland, said that: “Chuck strongly advocated a ‘think big’, ambitious approach to third level research funding. He wanted to transform rather that ‘tinker at the edges’ with the Irish research landscape”.
“Thus, the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) was launched in 1998 by the Higher Education Authority …. Atlantic funded 50% of the first cycle which was vital to kickstart the Programme. Levels of funding in the 100s of million euro which had been available in other competitive countries for many years, now became available in Ireland for the first time. Five cycles of the Programme have now been completed with an investment of 1.22 billion euro which includes government and private matching funds. The programme has provided key physical facilities and personnel for research in the humanities, sciences, engineering, technology and the social sciences including business and law”.
Investment in Trinity College Dublin from The Atlantic Philanthropies over the past 20 years have helped develop almost every aspect of the College: from student facilities to educational programmes, from research to campus development.
Ageing is a concrete example: with Atlantic Philanthropies’ support Trinity is achieving its ambition to be an international leader in this important area. Starting with just 10 people in 2003, Trinity now has over 100 academics actively engaged in research across all ageing-related domains. In collaboration with Trinity’s teaching hospitals, St James’s and Tallaght, and other Irish institutions, we aim to raise awareness of ageing issues, provide solutions for health, economic and social policy, discover new technologies, new biomarkers, new modes of service delivery and new treatments.
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) was the most important initial development in relation to ageing. The establishment in 2000 of this interdisciplinary research institute concentrating on the mind and brain with a PRTLI grant of over €13 million has today placed TCD in neuroscience research in the top .01% internationally. The mind and brain sciences reach into every aspect of human behaviour. Diseases of the brain, such as dementia, account for about 35% of the overall disease burden of the European Union. Delaying the onset and attenuating the disease burden would enhance individual quality of life and reduce the strain on the healthcare systems. Empowered by Atlantic Philanthropy, Trinity has developed a number of pioneering multidisciplinary research programmes in this area and is contributing to international knowledge.
Led by Trinity, The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA) started in 2006 with funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies, Department of Health and Irish Life. It has become the ageing ‘laboratory’ for generating and analysing data to impact policy and inform all the ageing research domains. And Atlantic Philanthropy support for Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) at St James’s Hospital has enabled the development of a major clinical ageing research and education centre.
Trinity now has capacity to deliver ageing research at the very highest international level, to have a global impact. This work started with Atlantic Philanthropy investments through PRTLI in specific transformational initiatives that enabled us to consolidate our efforts by bringing together several ageing-related activities.
Chuck Feeney’s degree was conferred jointly on behalf of their respective universities by Professor Brian Mac Craith, President, Dublin City Universit; Professor James J. Browne, President, NUI, Galway; Professor Philip Nolan, President, NUI, Maynooth; Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor, National University of Ireland; Dr Michael Murphy, President, University College Cork; Dr Hugh Brady, President, University College Dublin; Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University, Belfast; Professor Don Barry, President, University of Limerick; Professor Richard Barnett, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ulster; and Dr Mary Robinson, Chancellor, University of Dublin.
The Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny TD and the Minister for Education & Skills Mr Ruairí Quinn TD were guests of honour at the ceremony which took place in Dublin Castle.
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